Saturday, June 26, 2010

Jackie Chan's Top 100 Action Scenes: Introduction


Introduction

Without question, Jackie Chan is one of the greatest action stars, directors, and minds to ever try their hand in film-making. He first had a film role in 1962, made his big break in 1978 (with Snake in Eagles Shadow as well as Drunken Master) and has created countless classic action films and sequences since. I first encountered Jackie in 1998 with Rush Hour (which I thought was incredible at the time), and was amazed at how he constructed quick, elaborate, fight sequences with daring stunts and intricate hand and footwork. Here was something completely different than the standard kick and punch of Jean Claude Van-Damme (or kick, punch, & toss if you're Steven Seagal).

As I began to watch more of Chan's work, I realized that it just wasn't something different, it was in a class of its own. The next works I discovered were Rumble in the Bronx and Police Story IV: First Strike. This was some of his first imports (not even his best) into America (I only got them in late 1998 and 1999), but I thought they were incredible. Add on to that, my mother enjoyed Chan's brand of action, which featured intricacy over brutality, comedy over seriousness, and cleverness over obviousness. We began to watch the films together and we both got a kick out of them (no pun intended there).


I know what you must be saying, "You haven't even finished your 100 Favorite Films of All-Time, why tackle another?". The simple answer is, "Because I want to do this one right now!" Sorry, there's no way around it, I stalled out on #41 of my Favorite film list. I do expect to get back to that soon, but I've been waiting to do this Jackie Chan list for ages now. About five months ago I was able to finish off all the major films in Jackie's filmography, and I recently had a week vacation to begin and finish the actual ordering from over 200 Jackie Chan action sequences, no simple task (I had to go back and watch over 90% of the 100 action scenes).

My mindset in crafting the list was to not order the list in the sense of 'objective quality' only. Much like I do with my yearly best pictures and my personal top 100, the list is a balance of quality and personal enjoyment. One sequence might be technically more impressive than others, but if I just don't enjoy watching it as much, then it will probably rank lower than a scene that might scene less impressive that I just find more enjoyable. Most action stars would have a list of 100 shootouts or 100 fights, Jackie's list is a compilation of impressive fights, mind-blowing stunt fests, hilarious set pieces, bold car chases, outlandish foot chases, scuba tank fights, and on and on. No other star has the creative wit and diversity to pull off a list like the one I'm about to post; there is none like Jackie Chan. No other action star could say he was influenced as much by Bruce Lee as he was Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd.


This list is also meant as a research tool and advertisement for all current fans of Chan and future fans of Chan. There might be those who only know his recent output, perhaps only seeing him in things like The Spy Next Door or The Karate Kid. I hope that this list will let you see the glory, contributions to cinema, and (lets be frank) art that he has left behind. For those interested in Chan already, I hope this is a guide to further delve into the myriad of pleasures that his films have to offer. I look forward to your thoughts on my judgments, placings, and commentary. As much as any good film, some of Chan's sequences inspire debate, thought, and mixed feelings.

Perhaps in the end, as much as I am making this list for others, I'm making it for myself. For Chan's ability to bring myself to awe and wonder & for his ability to go beyond and consistently challenge himself, and me in the process. Like many at the top of their fields, their drive & determination to be the best and present their best, challenges all those who watch them in the process. Most of all though, I am making this list for the way Chan's films were able to bring my mother and I together; to just enjoy his films and all they entail. They are fond memories and I always know that when I go home, we can pop one in and just sit and enjoy them. As much as this list is about measuring things, that's something that just can't be measured.

1 comments:

Julie said...

I did enjoy reading that. :) Yeah, I assumed I would just wait for your Top 100 when you redid it again. That's really sweet about you and your mom, I'm sure she'll love this list. I'll watch at least some of the scenes, not sure if I'll watch all of them, especially this high up. This list already looks great, can't wait for the Top 10!